Mt taranaki is the sort of mountain you never tire of looking at, and one of the best places to view it from is the neighbouring Pouakai Range. This excellent weekend tramp accesses the Pouakai Range using the northern part of the Around-the Mountain Circuit, and ends back at North Egmont. It’s a great round trip, traversing all the varied terrain in this northern part of Egmont National Park.
From the North Egmont carpark near The Camphouse, take the Veronika Loop Track, which plunges into forest immediately, beginning a steep climb onto a razorback ridge. At a track junction (where the Veronika Loop Track branches off) keep heading uphill. After crossing a couple of gullies, you intercept the high level Around-the-Mountain Circuit, where you should head right.
The track passes beneath the angular columns of the Dieffenbach Cliffs, then continues sidling around to cross Boomerang Slip named for its shape. About halfway to Holly Hut, past a signposted turnoff to the Kokowai Track, the benched track sidles across a series of gorges cut by numerous streams radiating like spokes from Mt Taranaki. Finally, there’s a long but gradual descent to Holly Hut.
From Holly Hut, head back to the track junction and begin a gentle descent towards the Ahukawakawa Swamp a long series of boardwalks lead across the swamp to the Stony River. After crossing the Stony River on an arched footbridge, a series of steps lead up through forest to the exposed tops of the Pouakai Range. Increasingly good views of Mt Taranaki expand as you gain height.
Once on the range crest, the route to the Dover Track branches off to the west. Head right for about 20 minutes along the range, until a five-minute track branches off to Pouakai Hut. Beyond the knoll above the hut, the track leads across a flattish section of tops, past some small tarns, which often reflect Mt Taranaki in some splendour. More wooden steps descend from Henry towards the forest encasing the lower slopes. After crossing a stream near the shelter, the track sidles across more forested slopes intersected by some deep gullies before descending to the Waiwhakaiho River, which is spanned by a swingbridge near the confluence with Ram Stream. From here the Ram Track ascends a spur towards the road. Either end at the Kaiauai carpark (about a 2-kilometre walk along the road up to the carpark); or continue up the Ram Track to North Egmont.